Stephen Paulus: The Day Is Done

Ash Swamp, painting by Ann Quackenbos
Ash Swamp, painting by Kent Singer, Ann Quackenbos

Performed March 17, 2019; James Knox Sutterfield, conductor.

The Day Is Done, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes over me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain,
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, come read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Read from some humble poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Then read from some treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice,
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall be banished like restless feelings
And silently, silently, silently,
Silently steal away.

Concluding the first section of our program, The Day Is Done is a perfect illustration
of the style for which Stephen Paulus was so beloved: homophonic, strophic settings
in a warm harmonic language that is familiar yet identifiably Paulus’s own. The
Longfellow poem describes an evening’s reminiscence with vivid similes and asks
for poetry to fill the night with music and banish “the cares, that infest the day.”

Scroll to Top